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Politicians, drug warriors and other naysayers of the nug are always complaining that there’s not enough research available to prove the efficacy of medical marijuana for the treatment of various health conditions. But that’s difficult when the United States government continues to ensure that scientists only get the trashiest bud to gauge its therapeutic performance. However, Congress is working on a plan that would allow researchers to have access to higher quality cannabis products.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday afternoon designed to enhance medical marijuana research nationwide. The proposal, which is aptly titled “The Medical Marijuana Research Act (MMRA),” would provide scientists with the same cannabis grown and sold in legal states. It’s a positive step for cannabis researchers who have complained for decades that the government’s research-grade marijuana is subpar to what is available in states where it is legal.
Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who sponsored the measure with a number of Republicans, said before the bill’s passage that the time has come to change the antiquated protocols on research marijuana.
“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research. It’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or any other substance. But we do not have a good test for impairment because we can’t study it … This is insane and we need to change it,” Blumenauer said. “At a time when there are four million registered medical cannabis patients, and many more likely self-medicate, when there are 91% of Americans supporting medical cannabis, it’s time to change the system. Our bill will do precisely that.”
For decades, the federal government has played games with researchers looking to study the effects of cannabis. In addition to trying to get through the bureaucratic red tape that it takes to get approved to study marijuana, researchers have only been allowed to use weed grown by Uncle Sam at the University of Mississippi. And while this product may have been acceptable back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it is not up to today’s standard. Several marijuana research programs, including one on PTSD, have been set back over the years because of a lack of pot variety and potency.
Scientists have argued that in order to get a good look at the pros and cons of cannabis, they need to be examining the same quality herb that is being sold in legal states. And while the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was supposed to allow more growers to help remedy these concerns, no changes have been made. The MMRA would kick some much-needed progress into gear.
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“These common-sense regulatory changes are necessary and long overdue,” said NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “The DEA has proven time and time again that it is not an honest broker when it comes to overseeing the cultivation of research-grade cannabis. Despite promising over four years ago to expand the pool of federal licensees permitted to provide cannabis for clinical research, the agency has steadfastly refused to do so — leaving scientists with woefully inadequate supplies of cannabis and cannabis products available for human studies.”
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Unfortunately, much like the recently approved MORE Act, there isn’t much chance of the MMRA getting through the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it perfectly clear that he isn’t going to help further a movement seeking to legalize marijuana.
Still, it seems that the Democrats are setting pot reform up for a quick attack in case they take control of both Congressional Houses in Georgia’s upcoming runoff election. If that happens, we could see both bills moving swiftly to the desk of President-elect Joe Biden in the coming months.
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